Rest & Relaxation Vacation

Tuesday 8 February 2011

While we generally like living in Gabon, it is fairly evident that life isn't always easy here.  It's impossible to get anything done in a timely manner, the water and electricity are out regularly, it's not as safe as Canada, and corruption is everywhere.  It is because of this that we qualify for what is called a "Rest and Relaxation Vacation."  In short, Halliburton employs a company that ranks living conditions in different countries and if you live in a zone that qualifies, you are entitled to 1 (or 2 if you live somewhere worse) paid weeks of vacation and return flights to somewhere else in order to rest and relax.

Joe and I have decided to take our rest and relaxation vacation in South Africa and we have just booked and confirmed our flights for March 25.  We figure that we need to travel to the places around us first as if we don't travel in Africa while we live here, we certainly won't do it later.  We will begin our vacation by flying to the small town of Hoedspruit and from there to Kapama Game Reserve which borders Kruger National Park.  We have booked ourselves into a luxury safari for 3 nights where we'll be able to do game drives twice daily to see if we can spot the big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) among other animals.  (Yes, I said luxury and for those who know me, you may not be surprised to see that however, I did research more rustic versions but decided I live without electricity and water enough in my daily life that a little luxury is needed!)

From there, we'll catch a flight to Cape Town where we'll stay for another week.  Cape Town is widely known for great food, great shopping, and lots to see and do.  We are staying at a small guest house/boutique hotel for the duration of our time there but we plan on renting a car at some point to tour the area.

Of course, nothing is done without a bump in the road and this time it was Joe's passport.  While it was valid until 2012, he is out of pages.  (They go a little overboard here and every time we renew a visa it takes up an entire page and every time we leave Gabon we need a visa sortie which also takes another full page, not to mention the trips to Congo, etc.)  There is no Canadian embassy in Gabon but there is an honorary consulate in Libreville, which funnily enough, doesn't actually employ Canadians.  After contacting the closest embassy which is able to issue passports in Cameroon, Joe caught a flight to Libreville today to hand in his application which, they'll send off to the embassy.  While that seemed easy enough, getting passport photos to the Canadian standard was tricky.  We couldn't find anywhere in Port Gentil to do it but Joe asked at the consulate and they sent him somewhere in Libreville and have reassured him that it should be fine.  If all goes well, Joe should have a new passport in 15 business days and we'll be off to South Africa soon after!

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